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OCEDA chairman dies at 75


Jack and Mary Jo Wallace are pictured in 2016 at the Greater Starkville Development Partnership's 15th anniversary celebration in Starkville. Jack passed away Tuesday at age 75.

Jack and Mary Jo Wallace are pictured in 2016 at the Greater Starkville Development Partnership's 15th anniversary celebration in Starkville. Jack passed away Tuesday at age 75. Photo by: Dispatch file photo


Alex Holloway



Those who knew him say Jack Wallace was a pillar of economic development for Oktibbeha County. 


Wallace, 75, died Tuesday. The Oktibbeha native has been a familiar face for decades in the county's efforts to improve its economic footing, serving most recently as president of the Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority Board.  


Greater Starkville Development Partnership CEO Scott Maynard said Wallace was instrumental in helping form the Partnership, and he also served in the chamber of commerce before that. 


Maynard called Wallace a community icon. 


"The Partnership staff, board members and membership are deeply saddened over the loss of such a fine member of our community and Partnership family," he said. "Jack Wallace dedicated his many years to the development and success of our organization and the community, and his death is a great loss. We join many in offering our prayers and support to (his family) during their time of loss." 


Beyond his work with OCEDA, Wallace was a member of the GSDP Executive Committee and Board of Directors. He was the chairman of the State of Mississippi Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Committee, National Chairman of the Outreach Subcommittee of ESGR and a member of the ESGR Executive Advisory Subcommittee. 


A retired U.S. Army colonel, Wallace was a lifetime member of the Military Officers of America and the Reserve Officers associations. He was also a Starkville Rotarian and a member of First Presbyterian Church. 


Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors President Orlando Trainer said the county will miss Wallace's long-running commitment. 


"Mr. Wallace, I know, was probably on that board for more than 18 years, because he was on it when I got here," Trainer said. "He's overseen a lot of growth ... He's a well-rounded guy and extremely knowledgeable. 


"He did all that he did for no pay," Trainer added. "I know he got a lot of headaches out of it, but he did it for no salary." 


County supervisors appoint members of the OCEDA board and now must appoint Wallace's successor. In the meantime, he said OCEDA's board will likely choose who will serve as the board's interim president. 


Jerry Toney, GSDP chairman and president of Cadence Bank, said Wallace served with the Partnership and Chamber, in various capacities, for more than 30 years combined. Wallace was instrumental in many projects, including the development of the Thad Cochran Research Park at Mississippi State University and the new industrial park Oktibbeha County and the city of Starkville are pursuing. 


"It is impossible to describe the loss we have just experienced as a community," Toney said. "Jack's love of Oktibbeha County and the Starkville area has been demonstrated through his service to our community over the past 50-plus years. 


"Jack believed in all that this community could be, and dedicated himself daily to making Starkville a better place to live, work and play," he added. "To say that he will be missed is an understatement and does not do justice to how we are all feeling right now." 


Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill said Wallace, who was a personal friend, was a great public figure and a public servant. 


"He was a good, kind and thoughtful gentleman," Spruill said. "His forward thinking about the economic development role OCEDA plays has been critical. We won't be able to replace him. We'll find someone who can take up that mantle, but there will be no one like General Jack." 


Visitation for Wallace will be from 9-11 Friday at First Presbyterian Church in Starkville. Funeral services will follow.




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